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The Nashville Songwriters Association International is a 501(c) not-for-profit trade organization that works to help songwriters in three ways: through legislative advocacy, through education and advice about the actual craft of songwriting, and through teaching about the music industry, and how to best position a song for success within it. They own the Bluebird Cafe.
HISTORY OF NSAI
As songwriters know, sometimes the best ideas appear during lunch, and that was the case more than 40 years ago with songwriters Eddie Miller, Buddy Mize and Bill Brock. In 1967, over lunch at Ireland's Restaurant in Nashville, the three came up with a great idea: a songwriters association.
That kernel of an idea, planted and nurtured four decades ago, took root and has since grown into the 4,500+ member Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI), which today promotes awareness of songwriters' cultural contributions (through events such as Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival), champions the legal rights of professional songwriters and helps develop the abilities of aspiring songwriters.
But such growth and prosperity didn't occur overnight. Back in the late ‘60s, Nashville's songwriting community consisted of only a few dozen writers who received little credit for their achievements and whose royalty compensation was small, largely because of an antiquated copyright law. Additionally, outside of the performing rights societies ASCAP, BMI and SESAC, songwriter recognition was virtually non-existent.
Then, one November day in 1967, Miller (a 1975 inductee into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and founding member of the Academy of Country Music in California) encouraged fellow songwriters Mize and Brock to begin an association for writers in Nashville. Mize and Brock loved the idea, and all three set out to make it happen.
Within a month, Eddie, Buddy and Bill were conducting the group's first organizational meeting at the Old Professional's Club on Music Row. The meeting attracted some 40 songwriters, including Liz & Casey Anderson ("The Fugitive"), Felice & Boudleaux Bryant ("Wake Up Little Susie"), Kris Kristofferson ("Me And Bobby McGee") and Marijohn Wilkin ("One Day At A Time"). Those 40 -- more than half the songwriters in town at that time -- became the founding membership of NSAI and began spending countless hours around Marijohn’s kitchen table brainstorming, discussing and refining ideas.
Within a year, the Nashville Songwriters Association was chartered by the state of Tennessee as a not-for-profit trade association, and from that moment, NSAI would go on to make a difference for all songwriters by helping to revise antiquated copyright laws and to establish new intellectual property protection in the digital age, by establishing a network of over 90 songwriter workshops to provide local instruction at home and abroad, and by conducting more than a half dozen educational conferences and awards shows each year.
And though based in Nashville, NSAI represents all musical genres and includes songwriters from across the United States and overseas. NSAI provides a haven for both proven and undiscovered writers -- to get a cup of coffee, to make a phone call or just to receive a word of advice or consolation. To quote NSAI’s motto: "IT ALL BEGINS WITH A SONG" -- and, sometimes, it all begins over lunch.
The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) is the world’s largest not-for-profit songwriters trade association. Established in 1967, the membership of more than 5,000 active and pro members spans the United States and six other countries. NSAI is dedicated to protecting the rights of and serving aspiring and professional songwriters in all genres of music.
The Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) consists of a body of creative minds, including songwriters from all genres of music, professional and amateur, who are committed to protecting the rights and future of the profession of songwriting, and to educate, elevate, and celebrate the songwriter and to act as a unifying force within the music community and the community at large.
Songwriters Caucus — NSAI established Songwriters Caucuses in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate. In Congress, a “caucus” is a group of like-minded lawmakers who share a philosophical pre-disposition to support an issue.
When NSAI has an issue before Congress, we now have caucus members who will help us by co-sponsoring legislation, allowing songwriters to testify, and using the power of their offices and the media to represent the songwriter view.
FEDERAL COURT CASES
Eldred vs. Ashcroft — NSAI filed an “amicus brief” with the United States Supreme Court in a case that determined how long you and your heirs will own your copyrights. NSAI was the only songwriter organization to meet with the Justice Department attorneys, arguing the case on behalf of copyright owners. NSAI songwriter and Constitutional scholar Peter McCann researched the diaries of founding father James Madison. Madison authored Section 1, Article 8 of the United States Constitution that says: “Congress may grant, for a ‘limited time’, to authors and composers…” At issue was the definition of “limited time.” McCann found that Madison intended for his own diaries to be published after his death by his family, FOR PROFIT! This compelling argument influlenced the Supreme Court’s decision in favor of copyright owners and their heirs.
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